Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Hammer Horror


Vivid colour, gothic settings, gore, girls and a team of actors including Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were among the ingredients which saw a small British film studio take over the crown from Universal as master of the horror genre and reign supreme throughout the Sixties. The origin of Hammer dates right back to 1913 when Enrique Carreras bought a cinema in London. He was to team up with William Hinds (who changed his name to Will Hammer) in a distribution company in 1935 and they began producing films until the war years intervened. In 1947 they resumed filming and began production at Bray Studios in 1948.

A number of the films were based on popular radio shows of the time and they later began to look into the source material found on television. From 1948 their films included ‘The Man In Black’, ‘Room To Let’, ‘Stolen Face’ and ‘The Lady In the Fog.’ Then, in 1952, they produced two science-fiction movies which generated an encouraging response. Their first major breakthrough came when they adapted the highly popular BBC TV ‘Quatermass’ series in 1954 with ‘The Quatermass Xperiment.’ It was a winner, quickly followed by a further box-office success ‘X The Unknown.’ Then they produced the film which was to change their direction entirely and establish them as one of the world’s major production companies and the biggest horror movie specialists since the 30s/40s reign of Universal. The film was ‘The Curse of Frankenstein.’ So many individual ingredients were responsible for the film’s unprecedented success: the timing, coming shortly after a major series called ‘Shock’ on American television which revived Universal’s classic horror movies; the use of colour in the legendary story for the first time; the teaming of Cushing and Lee, and the close-knit team within the Hammer framework itself.

All planned schedules were changed following the Frankenstein/Dracula successes. The studio began to specialise in reviving the classic screen horror tales: ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’, ‘The Mummy’, ‘The Werewolf’, ‘Sherlock Holmes’, in addition to the continuing Dracula/Frankenstein series. Universal in particular were so impressed that they allowed Hammer to use much of their copyright material, announcing in the summer of 1958 that they would be turning over the copyright of their entire history of horror films for Hammer to remake. All were stamped with a definite Hammer seal because the company, based at tiny Bray on the Thames in Buckinghamshire, had its own key actors, house-trained directors and screenwriters. A major ingredient was the teaming of Cushing and Lee who were to take over the mantle of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi as the premier names in the horror genre.
Curse of Frankenstein

Christopher Lee as Dracula
Christopher Lee, born in London in 1922, had made his film debut in ‘Corridor of Mirrors’ in 1947 and appeared in numerous notable British films: ‘Hamlet’, ‘Scott of the Antarctic’, ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower’, ‘The Crimson Pirate’, ‘Moulin Rouge’, ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’, but had not really established himself enough to appear in starring roles because of his above average height of 6ft 5ins. When he heard that Hammer was seeking an actor to portray the creature in ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’, he applied for the role. “I went along and actually convinced them that they might make me totally unrecognisable, because I wasn’t getting anywhere looking like myself.”
The appearance as the creature led to his portrayal of Dracula, which made him a star overnight and the natural successor to Bela Lugosi. Hammer was planning to film ‘The Revenge of Dracula’ as the immediate follow-up to ‘Dracula’ but it was cancelled as Lee refused to repeat the role because he was afraid of being typecast.

Jimmy Sangster’s script was re-written for ‘Dracula – Prince of Darkness’ in 1965 when Lee agreed to return as Dracula, having appeared in a variety of roles in the meantime. Lee was later to claim that he was the only actor to have portrayed Dracula, Frankenstein’s creature, Fu Manchu, the Mummy and Sherlock Holmes (although Lon Chaney Jr appeared as Dracula, Frankenstein’s creature, the Mummy and the Wolfman) and starred in many Hammer films over the years, including their final horror production, ‘To The Devil A Daughter’ in 1975. Lee became personally very interested in the Dracula legend and was disappointed at the way Hammer failed to develop the character. He appeared as the vampire count for a number of non-Hammer productions, including ‘Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula’; ‘Dracula, Father and Son’ and ‘In Search of Dracula.’

Peter Cushing, born in Surrey in 1913 had also appeared in a number of small film roles, but had built an enviable reputation in television drama and had received the prestigious Television Actor of the Year award, appearing in 23 major productions between 1951-1953, including the controversial ‘1984.’
Cushing asked his agent to apply, on his behalf, for the role of Baron Frankenstein and Hammer, aware of his impressive performance as Winston Smith in ‘1984’, signed him.

He became a mainstay of Hammer throughout the Sixties and was to say, “What I liked about those Hammer films such as ‘Dracula’ was that it was all about good and evil – and you had to ensure that good was just as acceptable as bad. They were fairy stories of a kind, I suppose: terror tales which hold messages for all of us deep within their narratives.”

The Frankenstein script, by Jimmy Sangster who had worked his way up in Hammer from tea boy to production manager, differed from the Universal approach whose subsequent films followed the adventures of the creature. Sangster placed the accent fully on the Baron, portraying him as a ruthless, but dedicated scientist. Sangster had also set the events of the film in Switzerland at the beginning of the 19th Century – and an attention to a period setting, from costumes to furniture to architecture, became another Hammer hallmark. Cushing commented, “Frankenstein has tremendous style, because he is always the same character. He has perhaps become a little more ruthless, but basically he remains the same. The actor’s character must always come through to a certain extent, which makes for some kind of continuity. You also try to create your character from what the scriptwriter has given you, and I don’t think that Peter Cushing is all that much like Frankenstein. You are substantially governed by the script, and the way in which these are written is bound to reflect current attitudes to some extent.”

After Peter had appeared as Baron Von Frankenstein in ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ (1957); ‘The Revenge of Frankenstein’ (1958); ‘The Evil of Frankenstein’ (1964); ‘Frankenstein Created Woman’ (1967) and ‘Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed’ (1969), Hammer unwisely, and possibly thinking that Cushing was growing too old for the part, cast Ralph Bates in the role for ‘Horror of Frankenstein’ (1970), a remake of ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’, which was a failure and Cushing was recalled for duty in ‘Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell’ (1973). Cushing also provided continuity as Dr Van Helsing in ‘Dracula’ (1958); ‘The Brides of Dracula’ (1960); ‘Dracula A.D. 1972’ (1972) and ’The Satanic Rites of Dracula’ (1973).

When making the first ‘Frankenstein’ film, a completely new make-up had to be created for the creature as the Karloff/Pierce monster’s make-up was copyright to Universal. Hammer’s make-up man Phil Leakey devised a scarred, warped skin with greenish-yellow colour and lank black hair. Among his most impressive make-up tasks was the transformation of Oliver Reed into the wolf man in ‘The Curse of the Werewolf’ (1960). Another Hammer make-up man was Roy Ashton. Among the several in-house directors was Terence Fisher, whose first film for Hammer was ‘The Last Page’ (1956). The company chose Fisher to direct ‘the Curse of Frankenstein’ and ‘Dracula’ and he was also involved in several of the sequels and other Hammer horrors such as ‘Hound of the Baskervilles' (1958), ‘The Man Who Could Cheat Death’ (1958), ‘The Mummy’ (1959), ‘Stranglers of Bombay’ (1959), ‘The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll’ (1959), ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1962) and ‘The Devil Rides Out’ (1968).
Peter Cushing

Jimmy Sangster Fisher was to say: “Although I was absolutely delighted with the opportunity, I must admit that my being asked to direct the first ‘Frankenstein’ was a stroke of pure luck. It happened that, under the terms of my contract, I was owed a film by Hammer and the next one happened to be ‘Frankenstein.’ “Hammer wanted me to see earlier versions of the Frankenstein story, but I refused to do this because I think everybody should bring his own individual approach to a subject while remaining within the broader confines of the original story. I tried to forget the idea that I was continuing the central horror tradition of the cinema. I wanted the film to grow out of personal contact with the actors and out of the influence of the very special sets. I have never read Mary Shelley’s original book, and I don’t think I ought to read it. The greatest credit ought to go to Jimmy Sangster, who wrote the scripts and managed to make the original story so cinematic.” Sangster was, indeed, a writer ideally suited to the horror genre and it was a pity he was replaced as top screenwriter by producer Anthony Hinds who began turning out scripts using pseudonyms such as John Elder and Henry Younger.

Hammer was also noted for its character actors such as Michael Ripper, Miles Malleson and George Woodbridge, a pool of cameo players who stole many a scene with their brief appearances as undertakers, jailers, servants, and drunkards. Another vital ingredient was the glamour. The décolletage of various actresses such as Hazel Court in ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’, Valerie Gaunt as the seductive vampire in ‘Dracula’ and various glamorous ladies who drifted through Hammer films in diaphanous nighties or low-cut dresses: Ingrid Pitt, Veronica Carlson, Kate O’Mara, Valerie Leon, Martine Beswick, Susan Denberg and Julie Ege, to name but a few.


As the years progressed, due to changing tastes in cinema, Hammer tried to attract audiences by introducing initially naked bosoms, then full-frontal nudity in films such as ‘Twins of Evil’, ‘Lust For A Vampire’ and ‘To The Devil a Daughter.’ One noticeable difference in the use of colour in horror movies was the effect of the gore and James Carreras was to say, “We make three versions of a Dracula film.

In the English version we just have the man placing the stake on the heart and that’s it. For America he gives it a couple of sharp taps. But for Japan – and they won’t buy the stuff unless it’s really gory – he hits the stake and the vampire sits up and tries to grab it and he knocks the vampire back and hammers away and blood squirts all over the place and it’s awful.”


Once the Dracula and Frankenstein series were underway, Hammer began to remake the Universal horror monster movie themes with ‘The Mummy’ (1959), ‘The Curse of the Werewolf’ (1960), ‘The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll’ (1960) and ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ (1962). There were a number of original horror tales – ‘The Terror of the Tongs’ (1961) and ‘The Gorgon’ (1964); two horror films set in Cornwall ‘The Plague of the Zombies’ (1966) and ‘The Reptile’ (1966) and a series of movies based on Dennis Wheatley novels. Numerous other British studios such as Amicus and Tyburn were now copying the Hammer formula and American investment in British films began to wane.

Tastes were also changing and, in an attempt to adapt, Hammer introduced explicit sex into its movies, basing a trilogy of films, the Karnstein trilogy, on the Sheridan Le Fanu story ‘Carmilla’ – ‘The Vampire Lovers’ (1970), ‘Lust For A Vampire’ (1971) and ‘Twins Of Evil’ (1971). The vampire bite moved from the neck to the nipple and lesbian themes were introduced. Bare bosoms were even brought into the Dracula theme – ‘Countess Dracula’ (1971) and the Jekyll and Hyde story – ‘Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde’ (1971), but the interest in gothic horror films had passed its peak.

So, it seems, had the other themes Hammer had introduced – the fantasy stories of ‘She’, the prehistoric trilogy and the Psycho-style films. Like Universal, when the horror genre seemed on the wane, they turned to comedy. Although the last Hammer film was the horror movie ‘To The Devil a Daughter’ (1976), the bulk of their films in the early Seventies were big screen adaptations of popular British TV series, which had limited appeal abroad: ‘On The Buses’ (1971), ‘Mutiny on the Buses’ (1972), ‘That’s Your Funeral’ (1973), ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ (1973), ‘Nearest and Dearest’ (1973), ‘Man At The Top’ (1973) and ‘Man About the House’ (1973).
Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde

Hammer Horror "Hammer supply something that is very much lacking in people’s lives, the element of fantasy. People love to dream and people love to escape into a dream world.

Hammer films provide those specialised dream worlds. Millions of people all over the world, when they see the word Hammer, know they will be entertained. This is the prime business of the cinema.”

Christopher Lee
Hammer Horror - The Gorgon



Also see Sixties City - The House of Hammer


Selected Hammer Films


The Curse of Frankenstein (1956)
Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are teamed in a horror film for the first time. The creature itself was necessarily different from the previous screen monsters because Universal retained copyright of their visual interpretation. It was decided to focus the attention on Baron Frankenstein rather than the creature and to portray Frankenstein, not as an evil man, but as one possessed. Baron Von Frankenstein (Cushing) murders a brilliant scientist in order to obtain his brain to use in a creature he is assembling from human parts. Paul Krempe (Robert Urquhart) is so horrified he tries to prevent him and in the struggle the brain is damaged. The creature (Lee), when animated, becomes violent and murderous.

The Abominable Snowman (1956)
Based on Nigel Kneale’s BBC TV play ‘The Creature.’ An expedition searches for the legendary Yeti in the Himalayas. American showman Tom Friend (Forest Tucker) intends to capture one of the creatures to display as a freak attraction in a carnival. Dr John Rollaston (Cushing) is a scientist with a less mercenary motive. The party come across the Yeti and one of the creatures is killed. The expedition members are also killed in accidents. The lone survivor, Rollaston is trapped in a cave when the Yeti enter and he learns their awesome secret. He next appears at a lamasery at the foot of the mountains with no memory of what has occurred. Cushing had appeared in the original play, directed by Rudolph Cartier who also featured Cushing in the controversial ‘1984.’

Dracula (1958)
All the ingredients that were to make Hammer a success came together – the script by Jimmy Sangster, music by James Bernard, the décolletage of the actresses (Valerie Gaunt, Melissa Stribling, etc), the small cameo roles (Miles Malleson as the undertaker), the teaming of Cushing and Lee, the vivid colours and explicit vampire staking scenes, the direction of Terence Fisher and the period settings and costumes. Lee was to say, “’Dracula’ was, I don’t mind admitting, a fine film. It had that fundamental seriousness about it – as Bram Stoker’s book does. After all, it is something more than just a horror story. At the bottom it’s a morality play: the theme, the struggle between good and evil is as old as literature itself.” Most impressive was Christopher Lee’s interpretation of Dracula, going straight back to the original novel and also introducing a note of eroticism when the vampire bites the necks of females in their beds. He also wore tinted lenses in his eyes, and fangs. Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) arrives at Castle Dracula and is attacked by a vampire girl (Valerie Gaunt). He is a colleague of Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), a vampire hunter. Harker stakes the vampire girl, but is attacked by Dracula and becomes a vampire himself and is staked by Van Helsing. Van Helsing finds Harker’s diary and realises that Dracula has gone to England and is seeking Harker’s fiancée Lucy Holmwood (Carol Marsh), who he turns into a vampire. Lucy’s brother Arthur (Michael Gough) aids Van Helsing and Dracula kidnaps Arthur’s wife Mina (Melissa Stribling). In a confrontation in Castle Dracula, Van Helsing battles the vampire and, using daylight and two candlesticks in the shape of a cross, causes Dracula to disintegrate.

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958)
Following the success of both ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ and ‘Dracula,’ Hammer immediately planned ‘The Revenge of Dracula’ and ‘And Then…Frankenstein Made Woman,’ the latter a nod to Roger Vadim’s Bardot vehicle ‘And God Created Woman.’ Christopher Lee refused to appear in either, fearing becoming typecast. The accent on the next Frankenstein was then placed on the Baron once again rather than the creature and set the trend for the rest of the series. The Baron (Cushing) escapes the guillotine and three years later is running a free clinic in Carlsbruck under the name Dr. Stein. Paul Keleve (Francis Matthews) suspects who he is and coerces the Baron into making him both assistant and pupil. Karl (Oscar Quitak), a partially paralyzed dwarf, was responsible for rescuing Frankenstein from prison and as a reward, the Baron places his brain into a new body. Unfortunately, the new body also experiences paralysis and becomes twisted, which causes Karl to go mad and begin to murder local inhabitants – who turn of Frankenstein and nearly beat him to death. Keleve has constructed a new body for the Baron, a duplicate of his old one and after a successful transplant, Frankenstein sets off for London under the name of Dr. Franck.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959)
A full-colour interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes adventure, which is closer to the Conan Doyle novel than the Basil Rathbone version. Peter Cushing is particularly convincing as Sherlock Holmes and we might have seen him in a series of Hammer Holmes films, but the studio was unable to obtain permission to film further Doyle tales. A suspenseful prologue has the debouched Sir Hugo Baskerville hunt down and kill a servant girl on the moors, only to be stalked and savaged to death himself by a fearsome hound. Over a hundred years later the tale is related to Holmes and Watson (Andre Morell) following the mysterious death of Sir Charles Baskerville. The detective decides to protect the life of the remaining heir, Sir Henry Baskerville (Christopher Lee).

The Mummy (1959)
Effective flashback to ancient Egypt where high priest Kharis (Lee) attempts sacrilege by trying to bring his loved one, Princess Ananka (Yvonne Furneaux) back to life. This results in his capture, having his tongue ripped out and being sentenced to eternal life as a mummy guarding the tomb. When an archaeological expedition excavates the site, the mummy turns up in England and, aided by Mehemet (George Pastell), follower of the ancient sect, begins murdering expedition members. Dr. John Banning (Cushing) is one of them, but when the mummy comes for him he notices that the Doctor’s wife Helen resembles his lost love and he carries her away, but is trapped in a swamp. Lee was to say, “Going through these swamps holding the girl in front of me caused an enormous strain on my arms and back. And with all the wires and tubes and jets and pipes in the studio tank crashing into your shins I was torn to bits, bleeding all over the place. That doesn’t sound like anything particularly unpleasant, but it was.”

The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)
Based on the Barry Lyndon play ‘The Man In Half Moon Street,’ Anton Diffring starred as Doctor George Bonner who, although he has a youthful appearance, is actually 104 years old. Together with a colleague, Professor Weiss (Paul Hardtmuth) he discovered a way to halt ageing and fend off diseases by transplanting a gland. Weiss performed the original operation on Bonner and when they discovered that the operation was necessary every 20 years, continued with operations while Weiss aged in the normal way. When Weiss suffers a paralysing stroke, Bonner seeks the aid of a surgeon, Pierre (Lee). They are both in love with Janine Dubois (Hazel Court) and Bonner wants her to undergo the operation and join him in immortality. He murders to obtain the necessary glands, but in the film’s fiery climax, he is trapped in a burning room and begins to age instantly when all the diseases he’s been immune from visit him all at once.

The Stranglers of Bombay (1960)

One of the rarely seen Hammer productions, which has now become a cult film. Based on the evil Indian cult of worshipers of Kali, the Thugees, the film is set in 1826 when the Thugees created a reign of terror, mutilating and killing thousands of Indians, before the cult was eventually overthrown by the British East India Company. Filmed in black and white and Megascope, to give it a documentary-feel, the film starred Guy Rolfe as Captain Lewis, a British officer sent to overthrow the Thugees. Marie Devereaux, a girl with huge breasts who never speaks in the film, but who supervises scenes of torture featuring severed limbs and amputated tongues, is a handmaiden of Kali and temporarily became a cult figure on the Continent due to the film.

Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
Superior werewolf tale with impressive make-up by Roy Ashton in a story based on Guy Endore’s ‘The Werewolf of Paris’, although it’s set in 18th Century Spain. A beggar (Richard Wordsworth) is thrown into a castle prison and the mute jailer’s daughter (Yvonne Romain) becomes pregnant. Originally, the beggar was a werewolf but the censors forced Hammer to change the script as they didn’t want any association between sex and the supernatural. The girl dies in childbirth on Christmas Day and the baby is adopted by Don Alfredo Cavido (Clifford Evans). He grows into a young man, Leon (a 22-year-old Oliver Reed in his first starring role) and is saved from turning into a werewolf by his love for Christine Fernandez (Catherine Fuller), daughter of his employer. But when his employer forbids them to become engaged, Leon turns into a werewolf on the night of the full moon. His adopted father has to kill him with a silver bullet forged from a crucifix.

Brides of Dracula (1960)
A deceptive title. Dracula wasn’t in the film because Lee refused to appear as the Count. David Peel, in his only film role, portrayed the vampire Baron Meinster, locked and chained in his castle by his mother, the Baroness (Martita Hunt). When Mademoiselle Danielle (Yvonne Monlaur) is stranded in the area, she is invited to the castle, takes pity on the Baron and frees him. Meinster then attacks his mother and turns her into one of the undead. Mlle Danielle escapes and meets Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing). When the vampire hunter and the vampire confront each other in a mill, Van Helsing rids himself of the vampire’s bite with the aid of holy water and a white hot poker. He brands the Baron’s face with holy water and when the Baron upsets a brazier and causes a fire, traps him in the inferno by making the blades of the mill form the shape of a cross.

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde’ is a popular theme which has been filmed many times. The first Hammer approach to the tale reverses the plot by featuring a hideous Jekyll and a pleasantly featured Hyde. Here, Jekyll is an old, bearded man who, when transformed, becomes the handsome Hyde. The only case when Jekyll, not Hyde, needs the attentions of a make-up man! Jekyll has done nothing about his unfaithful wife, Kitty (Dawn Adams) and her affair with Paul Allen (Lee), but when he turns into Hyde, he charms her away from Allen and drives her to suicide. There is a blazing climax when Jekyll tries to destroy his alter-ego by fire. Canadian actor Paul Massie took on the dual role. Scriptwriter Wolf Mancowitz was to say, “Evil is attractive to all men. Therefore, it is not illogical that the face of evil should be attractive. The film was known in America as ‘House of Fright.’

The Terror of the Tongs (1961)
Not strictly a horror movie, but one with action and violence, a film which led to Christopher Lee’s appearance in Fu Manchu movies. Set in Hong Kong in 1910, it depicts the reign of terror created by the Red Dragon Tong. Captain Jackson (Geoffrey Toone), a British seaman, searches for the killers of his daughter and despite being captured and tortured, fights against the sinister cult and causes the overthrow of its callous leader, Chung King (Lee). It also stars Yvonne Monlaur.

The Phantom of the Opera (1961)
Based on Universal’s 1943 remake rather than the original novella by Gaston Leroux. Herbert Lom starred as Erik, disfigured with acid by the evil Lord D’Arcy (Michael Gough), who stalks the Opera House and coaches Christine Charles (Heather Sears) as a singer. This time the Phantom is a particularly sympathetic character who does not cause any murders – they are perpetrated by a mysterious dwarf (Ian Wilson). The Phantom is not unmasked by the girl, but by D’Arcy and he dies trying to save Christine from a giant chandelier which accidentally crashes onto the stage. It wasn’t popular because of its lack of any real horror or suspense.

The Damned (1961)
An unusual and effective sci-fi horror movie directed by Joseph Losey, based on H.L. Lawrence’s ‘The Children of Light.’ Release was held up for two years and it was eventually issued on a double bill with ‘Maniac’, in edited form. The sinister Bernard (Alexander Knox) heads a Government project which mutates children by exposing them to radiation. Anyone who discovers the secret, including American tourist Simon Wells (Macdonald Carey), his girlfriend Jean (Shirley Ann field), the sculptress Freya (Viveca Lindfors) and the leader of a motorcycle gang (Oliver Reed), is ruthlessly disposed of. A neglected gem, due for reappraisal.

Kiss of the Vampire (1964)
Since it was not a remake, adaptation or sequel, this was actually the first original horror movie for Hammer. It followed the fate of a honeymoon couple (Edward de Souza and Jennifer Daniel) as they travelled by motor car through Bavaria. They are invited to a masquerade ball by Doctor Ravna (Noel Willman) and his family, where the young bride is kidnapped and all evidence that she existed destroyed. The distraught groom turns to Professor Zimmer (Clifford Evans) for help. Zimmer reveals that Ravna heads a vampire cult whose members have previously kidnapped several young women, including his own daughter. He summons up a swarm of real vampire bats who wipe out the cult. Virtually the entire bat attack scene was cut from the American television version and in the U.S. the movie was retitled ‘Kiss of Evil.’

Evil of Frankenstein (1964)
Hammer’s first Frankenstein production for Universal Studios which meant that special effects man Ray Ashton was given permission to use the design of this classic creature from the 1931 film. The make-up with more scars and stitches than Karloff had, was applied to the features of Australian wrestler Kiwi Kingston. Frankenstein (Cushing) and his assistant Hans (Sandor Eles) return to the Baron’s castle and during a search in the mountains discover the body of the creature preserved in a block of ice. Frankenstein thaws out the creature, establishes that it is still alive, but can’t revive it. He employs the services of a seedy hypnotist Zoltan (Peter Woodthorpe). The creature responds to his voice and Zoltan uses it to rob and murder. Eventually, the creature turns on him, but in the process sets fire to the castle and is trapped in the flames withy Frankenstein. Some of the gorier scenes were edited out for showing on US TV and additional footage was filmed using American actors.

The Gorgon (1964)
An unusual tale merging Greek mythology with Transylvanian atmosphere, transporting Magaera, one of the three Gorgons of ancient myth, to the Carpathians. Barbara Shelley, in her second Hammer appearance, is Carla, assistant to Professor Namaroff (Cushing), who is investigating the strange deaths of villagers who have been turned to stone. When he himself is petrified after visiting the sinister Castle Borski, his son Paul (Richard Pasco), aided by Professor Meister (Lee) sets out on the trail of the monster. It is Carla who is transformed into a Gorgon, a hideous hag with writhing snake head, which causes anyone looking at her face to turn to stone. The Old Dark House (1964) Strangely, the film was released in monochrome in America and wasn’t shown in Britain until 1966 when it was issued in its full colour version. Supposedly a remake of James Whale’s 1932 Universal shocker, based on J. B. Priestley’s novel ‘Benighted,’ but owing little to the previous film or story, apart from its use of name. Directed by American William Castle, noted for his series of black and white horror movies with gimmicks, it tells how an American, Tom Ponderel (Tom Poston) is forced to stay overnight in a strange, old house. During the course of the night the various members of the family are knocked off one by one. An attempt was made to introduce humour into the proceedings and the film also starred Janette Scott, Joyce Grenfell, Robert Morley, Fenella Fielding and Peter Bull.

The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964)
Archaeologist Sir Giles Dalrymple (Jack Gwillim) exhumes the mummy of Ra Antef, but is furious when his American backer Alexander King (Fred Clark) announces he is exhibiting the mummy on a world wide tour. Hasmi Bay (George Pastelli) warns them of the mummy’s curse. The reading of an inscription on an ancient Egyptian medallion brings the mummy (Dickie Owen) to life and the killings begin. Adam Beauchamp (Terence Morgan) is eventually revealed as Ba Antef, the mummy’s brother. The two had been in love with the same woman and Ba had killed his brother. As a result he had been cursed with eternal life. Annette Dubois (Jeanne Roland) resembles the girl they loved. The climax takes place in the London sewers when Ba and Ra confront each other for the last time.

Dracula – Prince of Darkness (1965)
Based on the original Sangster script for ‘The Revenge of Dracula), but cancelled when Christopher Lee refused to appear. Peter Cushing is also absent and the vampire hunter becomes Father Sandor (Andrew Kier). Two British couples, Charles and Diana (Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer) and Alan and Helen (Charles Tingwell and Barbara Shelley) find themselves in Castle Dracula. The Count’s servant Klove (Philip Latham) murders Alan and pours his blood over Dracula’s ashes, reviving the vampire. The Count turns Helen into a vampire and Father Sandor releases her soul by hammering a stake into her heart. Dracula is cornered outside his castle and when the ice breaks he is trapped by running water and sinks in the moat.

Plague of the Zombies (1966)
An unusual tale of a voodoo cult in Cornwall. The local squire Clive Hamilton (John Carson) is a voodoo master, creating an army of undead creatures to work in his tin mines. One impressive sequence features a nightmare in which the undead claw their way out of their graves in a desolate cemetery. Alice (Jacqueline Pearce) is one of the victims killed and brought back to live. When Hamilton attempts to sacrifice Sylvia (Diane Clare), daughter of Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell), Forbes and his ally Dr Peter Thompson (Brook Williams) upset his plans and the zombie master and his creatures are destroyed in an underground fire.

Rasputin – The Mad Monk (1966)
Based on the true story of the Russian mystic, but given the Hammer treatment – severed hand, a face scarred by acid, décolletage, vivid colour – and a spirited performance by Christopher Lee in the title role. Rasputin exploited his charisma and hypnotic powers and through Sonia (Barbara Shelley), the Tsarina’s lady-in-waiting, cast his spell over the Russian Royal Family until worried nobles plotted his death. In real life his struggles to survive were even more spectacular than in this film, which has him almost surviving the poisoning, stabbing and drowning. The sets used were those utilised as Dracula’s castle, and the film was issued on a double bill with ‘The Reptile.’

The Reptile (1966)
Second of the two Cornish films directed by John Gilling and filmed back to back in the studio. Hammer had been pleased with their creation of an original female monster in ‘The Gorgon’ and wanted to follow up with a second. Jacqueline Pearce, who played Alice in ‘Plague of the Zombies’ and later played Servalan in ‘Blake’s Seven’, is a young woman who has been cursed by an Eastern cult into turning periodically into a snake woman. A special fanged, scaly mask was devised which was much more convincing than the animation used in ‘The Gorgon.’ Inhabitants of a Cornish village are attacked by a creature that bites them on the neck, causing their skin to blacken before they die. Harry Spalding (Ray Barrett) and his wife Valeria (Jennifer Daniel) arrive in the village after Harry’s brother Charles has been killed. They become friendly with Doctor Franklyn (Noel Williams) and his daughter Anna, who have recently returned from Borneo. When Anna changes into a reptile and attempts to kill them, there is a battle for survival in a burning mansion.

The Witches (1966)
Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale penned the script to this tale based on Peter Curtis’ novel ‘The Devil’s Own’ (the title by which the film was released in America). Hollywood actress Joan Fontaine portrayed Gwen Mayfield, a woman who has experienced a frightening vision in Africa after experimenting with voodoo. She seeks tranquillity in an English village, only to find that there is a local coven, presided over by Stephanie Bax (Kay Walsh). The witch cult intends to sacrifice a virgin schoolgirl, Linda (Ingrid Brett) during an orgy in a ruined church. Gwen is determined to save the girl, even though the power of the witches is turned against her.

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

An interesting variation on the Frankenstein story as his ‘creation’ is a beautiful young woman. Christina (Susan Denberg) is deformed on one side of her face and body, but young Hans (Robert Morris) loves her. When three men murder her father and Hans is hung for the crime, she drowns herself. Frankenstein rescues the body, heals it, turning it into the form of a beautiful girl and then uses an energy machine to transfer Hans’ soul into the female form. As the transformed Christina, he lures the three men, one by one, and murders them, after which he drowns himself.

The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)
A despoiled tomb, a curse, a mummy on the rampage: the basic ingredients contained in almost all of the mummy films. The Mummy (Eddie Powell), against the advice of all those who understand the nature of the curse, is taken from his Egyptian resting place and displayed in a museum. When revived, it begins to kill. The archaeologist Claire (Maggie Kimberley) finds a sacred shroud on which are written the words that can destroy the mummy. Once read, they cause the creature to destroy itself, crushing its own head to powder and tearing itself to pieces. The film was the last Hammer movie to be made at Bray Studios, along with ‘Frankenstein Created Woman’ and the two films were released on a double bill.


The Devil Rides Out (1968)
First- and best – of the Dennis Wheatley novels to be filmed by Hammer. Christopher Lee, a heroic figure as the Duc de Richleau pitting his knowledge against a coven of devil worshippers led by the warlock Mocata (Charles Gray). The Angel of death, giant spectral spiders and the Devil himself are involved in a tremendous battle between good and evil with a climax in a magic pentacle and a fight on the astral plane. The script was adapted by Richard Matheson.

Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968)
The film that brought Hammer the Queen’s Award for Industry. It takes up the Dracula story where ‘Dracula, Prince of Darkness’ left off. A Monsignor (Rupert Davies) travels to the village of Keinenburg, in the shadow of Dracula’s castle and finds a young girl (Carrie Bauer) murdered, drained of blood, with her body stuffed into a church bell. The villagers no longer attend the church because of its proximity to the castle. The Monsignor is accompanied by the priest (Ewan Hooper) as he climbs to Dracula’s castle to carry out an exorcism and place a huge crucifix outside the castle. In the meantime the priest has fallen and hurt his head and his blood trickles onto the ice into the mouth of Dracula, reviving him. The priest becomes his pawn as Dracula sets off to take revenge on the Monsignor by turning his niece Maria (Veronica Carlson) into a member of the undead. But the Monsignor bars his way with a crucifix and chases the vampire away. He is murdered by the priest and Dracula abducts the girl, but her boyfriend Paul (Barry Andrews) follows him to the castle and as they grapple, Dracula stumbles over a cliff and is impaled on the Monsignor’s golden cross.

The Lost Continent (1968)
Seeking to extend their repertoire outside the Dracula/Frankenstein/Mummy series, Hammer turned to the world of Dennis Wheatley, Britain’s noted novelist of the occult. The first half of the film places a group of misfits on a tramp steamer, lost in uncharted seas (‘Uncharted Seas’ was the title of the Wheatley novel). Initially, almost a routine lost-at-sea drama with the world-weary Captain Lansen (Eric Porter), falling in love with Eva (Hildegarde Knef), a woman with a mysterious past. Then the entire film changes pace when they sail into a Sargasso Sea, where ancient ships are trapped by carnivorous seaweed. The fleet of ships are inhabited by a strange race, ruled by an evil young king – and travel between vessels is aided by gas filled balloons. The audience hooted when cantilevered Dana Gillespie first appeared, supported by two balloons!


Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)

Brain swapping in an asylum: Frankenstein (Cushing) has been corresponding with Dr. Brandt (George Pravda), who has successfully transplanted brains by surgery. When the Baron arrives in Altenburg he discovers Brandt has gone mad and been committed to an asylum. Frankenstein blackmails a young couple (Veronica Carlson/Simon Ward) into helping him kidnap Brandt, but the doctor dies of a heart attack. Frankenstein transplants Brandt’s brain into the head of Professor Richter (Freddie Jones). Randt regains his sanity, but, horror stricken at what has been done to him, vows revenge and traps Frankenstein in a fiery conflagration.


Taste The Blood of Dracula (1970)

Lord Courtey (Ralph Bates) obtains Dracula’s blood, signet ring, cloak and medallion, intending to revive the vampire in an occult ritual with the aid of three accomplices.
During the ceremony they kill him and leave, without realising that his blood, mixed with Dracula’s will bring the Count back from the dead.
The Devil Rides Out
Dracula vows revenge on all three men through their children and causes Alice (Linda Hayden) to slash her father’s throat with a shovel, Lucy (Isla Blair) to kill her father with a stake and Jeremy to stab his father to death. Alice’s lover Paul (Anthony Corland) traces here to a deserted church where Dracula intends to turn her into a vampire, and used hymns to revive the power of light in the church to attack Dracula and turn him to dust.

Horror of Frankenstein (1970)
Hammer finally got their chance to promote Ralph Bates in a role previously taken by Peter Cushing, who they intended him to replace, They considered Cushing too old to play Frankenstein, yet this remake of their original 1957 ‘The Curse of Frankenstein’ was a flop and they brought Cushing back as Frankenstein for their 1973 production ‘Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell.’ Victor Frankenstein (Bates) is a descendant of the original Baron and intends to follow in the footsteps of his ancestor, initially reviving a dead tortoise and then hiring a grave robber (Dennis Price) to bring him various human parts for him to construct into his creature. Victor intends to use the brain of a brilliant professor he has poisoned, but the brain is dropped and damaged. When the creature (David Prowse) is eventually brought to life by the power generated in an electrical storm, he is deranged and commits murder. The grave robber uses him to murder his wife (Joan Rice) and when Victor’s housemaid/mistress (Kate O’ Mara) threatens him with blackmail, he turns the creature on her.

Scars of Dracula (1970)
Increasingly unhappy at the way Dracula had become almost an incidental character in the films, Lee told the company he wouldn’t appear in any more. Michael Carreras made a statement: “We gave birth to Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, who play our monsters. Right now they’re getting a little long in the tooth, so we’re developing new talent. We’re building up a boy called Ralph Bates who should make an excellent Dracula.” However, Lee was the box office attraction and Hammer talked him into appearing by altering the script to enlarge Dracula’s role. When Dracula kills a local girl, villagers attack his castle and set fire to it, having left their wives and children inside a local church. Dracula, in the guise of a bat, enters the church and kills them all. A young man, Paul (Christopher Matthews) is captured by the vampire and his brother Simon (Dennis Waterman) and his girl Sarah (Jenny Hanley) set out to rescue him. There is a climax on the top of the castle with Dracula, Simon, Sarah and the hunchback servant Klove (Patrick Troughton). Dracula tosses Klove over the turret and Simon plunges a metal spike into the vampire’s chest. It doesn’t touch his heart and Dracula pulls it out, but a bolt of lightning strikes him and he turns into an inferno.

The Vampire Lovers (1970)
In order to cater for changing tastes, Hammer turned to the famous J. Sheridan Le Fanu tale ‘Carmilla’, the story of a female vampire. It provided the opportunity to add to the eroticism of their movies by introducing bare breasts and a hint of lesbianism. Ingrid Pitt starred as Mircalla Karnstein in the first in the first of Hammer’s ‘Karnstein Trilogy.’ Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer) sets out to destroy a nest of vampires. Carmilla escapes and vows revenge, attacking and killing several young girls until General Spielsdorf (Cushing), the father of one of her victims, tracks the vampire down and decapitates her.

Lust For A Vampire (1971)
Ralph Bates was an actor Hammer had major plans for. They’d slated him to replace Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Frankenstein. He portrays Giles Barton, co-owner of a Finishing School, who is killed by a vampire. The film, directed by Jimmy Sangster, once again uses the J. Sheridan Le Fanu character of Carmilla. Legend points out that the Karnsteins will rise from the grave every forty years. Count Karnstein (Mike Raven), uses an arcane ritual and the blood of a servant girl to bring Carmilla (Yutte Stensgaard) back to life. Under the guise of Mircalla, she joins the Finishing School and begins to murder the girls. She falls in love with Richard Lestrange (Michael Johnson), who teaches English Literature at the school and when the villagers discover her secret and set fire to the castle, goes to rescue him from the flames but perishes when the burning point of a beam pierces her breast.

Countess Dracula (1970)
A completely misleading title as it has nothing to do with Bram Stoker’s creation – or with vampirism. It’s based on the true story of a Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory, who bathed in the blood of young girls. Ingrid Pitt stars as Countess Nadasy who, when beating a maid, finds that the girl’s blood, which has spattered her cheek, has also smoothed her skin. With the aid of Captain Dobi (Nigel Green) and her old nanny Julia (Patience Collier), she begins to bathe in the blood of murdered girls and turns youthful again. She poses as her own daughter Ilona (Lesley-Anne Down), who has been brought up in Vienna, and has the girl kidnapped. When she bathes in the blood of the harlot Zita (Andrea Lawrence) and ages once again, she realises that it is only the blood of young virgins which has effect. The original Countess was buried alive in her room. Countess Nadasy is chained and imprisoned.

Hands Of The Ripper (1971)
Hammer’s only foray into Ripper territory, with Angharad Rees as Anna, Jack the Ripper’s daughter, who turns homicidal when she is kissed and becomes possessed of the strength of her father. In a trance-like state she commits several murders, killing a maid, Dolly (Marjie Lawrence), then shattering a mirror and using the shards of glass to pinion the phoney medium Mrs. Golding (Dora Bryan) to a door and stabbing a prostitute in the eye with a handful of hatpins. Dr John Pritchard (Eric Porter), a psycho-analyst who befriends her, is stabbed in the side by the possessed girl, but pursues her to the Whispering Gallery in St. Paul’s Cathedral where they both topple to their deaths.

Twins Of Evil (1971)
Tudor Gates, who scripted ‘Barbarella’ for Roger Vadim, wrote the scripts for all three of Hammer’s Karnstein series. This is the final film in the trilogy with yet another actress, Katya Keith, taking over the role of the vampire Mircalla Karnstein. Real life twins Madeline and Mary Collinson also starred. Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas) restores life to Mircalla and the two vampires begin to terrorise the villagers who live close to Karnstein Castle. In the meantime, there is another reign of terror with Gustav Weir (Peter Cushing), head of the Brotherhood, a group of Puritans who hunt and burn suspected witches, many of them innocent young girls. Weil’s identical nieces arrive to stay with him and come to the attention of the vampires. Frieda becomes a vampire, but Weil believes Maria is the one tainted with evil and attempts to burn her at the stake. He realises his mistake in time and leads the Brotherhood to Karnstein Castle where he decapitates Frieda but is killed by Karnstein before the Puritans destroy the two vampires.

Dr Jekyll And Sister Hyde (1971)
One of the most ingenious variations of Stephenson’s classic novel to date: Dr. Jekyll’s experiments turn him into a ravishing girl – but one who is homicidal. The story obviously lends itself to romantic complications with a male and female psyche residing in the same body. To fuel Jekyll’s experiments to discover the elixir of life, Sister Hyde (Martine Bestwick) murders a number of women. Ralph Bates appeared as Dr Jekyll with a script by Brian Clemens. Martine Beswick was one of the most stunning of the Hammer girls and appeared in other productions such as ‘One Million Years BC’ and ‘Slave Girls.’ She went to Hollywood to try and find success there, but ended up waiting on tables.

Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971)
Based on the novel ‘Jewel of the Seven Stars’ by ‘Dracula’ creator Bram Stoker and the only mummy film not to have a mummy in it. The same story was filmed some years later as ‘The Awakening’ with Charlton Heston. The tall, statuesque Valerie Leon starred in the dual role of Margaret, a contemporary girl and Tera, a dead Egyptian Princess. When the tomb of the ancient Princess is uncovered, she is perfectly preserved. In her coffin is her own severed hand, which still bleeds, and there is a priceless ruby on one of the fingers. When the body is transported to England, Margaret is given the ruby and through it, she becomes possessed by the spirit of Tera who begins to avenge the desecration of her tomb. During filming the director Seth Holt died and it was completed by Michael Carreras.

Vampire Circus (1972)
An intriguing interpretation of a vampire theme, with Hammer’s increasing use of nudity and gory scenes (impaling, staking, beheading, burning). In the Serbian village of Schtettel in 1810, Anna Mueller (Domini Blythe) comes under the influence of the vampire Count Mitterand. Her husband (Laurence Payne) leads the villagers against the Count and he is staked and left to perish in the burning castle. Ann drags him into the cellars and he puts a curse on the village before dying. 15 years later Schtettel has been stricken by plague and is isolated from the outside world by military roadblocks – yet a mysterious circus arrives in the village. It is a circus of vampires who can change their shape into those of animals and they begin to murder the villager’s children. The villagers fight back and make their way to the castle cellars where Mitterand has been revived by a gypsy woman (Adrienne Corri). The subsequent slaughter leaves the vampires and most of the villagers dead – but the curse has been lifted.

Demons Of The Mind (1972)
In the 1830s, Baron Friedrich Zorn (Robert Hardy), concerned about the hereditary evil that runs through his family, imprisons his son Emil (Shane Briant) and daughter Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) mistakenly believing them to be insane. Doctor Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) discovers that the Baron has actually been using the powers of his mind to will his son to commit a series of murders. The villagers, convinced a vampire is at loose, stake the Baron with a flaming cross.

Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
Dracula in swinging Chelsea, revived 100 years after his death, to vow vengeance of the descendants of his arch enemy Van Helsing. Dracula uses a rock singer by the name of Johnny Alucard (Christopher Neame) – Dracula spelt backwards – to capture Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham), the niece of Professor Van Helsing, but the wily vampire hunter proves more than a match for the ancient vampire.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula 1972)

Originally titled ‘Dracula Is Dead…And Well And Living In London.’ Lee described it as: “Fatuous, pointless, absurd. It’s not a comedy. At least with me it’s not a comedy. But it’s a comic title. I don’t see the point. I don’t see what they hope to achieve. I think it’s playing down to people. The title was changed, but Lee also despaired of the plot. Set in contemporary times, Van Helsing (Cushing) is once again on the trail of the Count, determined to stop Dracula’s young vampire clan from sacrificing his niece Jessica (Joanna Lumley)

Frankenstein & The Monster From Hell (1973)
The final film in Hammer’s Frankenstein cycle with Peter Cushing back in the driving seat as the Baron and David Prowse appearing as the creature for the second time, but with completely different make-up from that he wore in ‘The Horror of Frankenstein.’ Doctor Victor Frankenstein continues his experiments in the secrecy of the Carlsbad asylum. He is recognised by Dr. Helder (Shane Briant), who discovers that he has been making a monster from parts of the bodies of inmates who have died. As an admirer of Frankenstein’s work, he begins to help the Baron, but the monster when brought to life, escapes and battles with the asylum inmates.

Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (1973)
Another interesting variation on the vampire mythos. The creation of leading TV writer Brian Clemens, who also directed. Clemens originally intended Kronos to be the first in a series featuring the character. But the film was poorly distributed and no more films were made. In the early 19th Century, Captain Kronos (Horst Janson), ex-officer of the Imperial Guard and a master swordsman, sets out to destroy vampires, accompanied by a hunchback, Professor Hieronymus Grost (John Cater) and Carla (Caroline Munro). Dr Marcus (John Carson) asks them to come to the village of Durward where vampires have been sucking the youth from the bodies of young girls. There are several exciting action sequences and a final duel between Kronos and the vampire Hagen (William Hobbs), himself a master swordsman.

The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974)
A highly entertaining combination of martial arts and horror with the teaming of Hammer and Hong Kong’s Run Run Shaw, A Chinese monk travels to Transylvania to pay homage to Dracula and the vampire assumes his identity. Several years later, Van Helsing (Cushing) is lecturing in China when he is asked to aid a village which is terrorised by seven golden vampires. Accompanied by six martial arts experts, his son Leyland (Robin Stewart) and Vanessa Buren (Julie Ege), they have to battle their way to the village with bandits and vampires in their path and eventually make a stand in the village against the vampires and a host of zombies. Van Helsing and his son, together with the two surviving warriors, track down Dracula and destroy him. As Christopher Lee refused to appear as Dracula, the part went to John Forbes Robinson.

To The Devil A Daughter (1976)
Hammer’s final feature film: another adaptation of a Dennis Wheatley novel. Father Michael (Christopher Lee) is a defrocked priest who has established his own convent in Germany, the Children of the Lord. He sends one of his nuns, Catherine Beddows (Nastassia Kinski) to London on her 18th birthday and her father, Harry (Denholm Elliott) persuades his friend, author John Verney (Richard Widmark) to pick her up at the airport and hide her from the cult. Father Michael begins to track them down, committing several supernatural murders and capturing Catherine who he prepares for sacrifice – but Verney is also an expert on the Occult and turns the tables on the rebel priest.



Also see Sixties City - The House of Hammer        


Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.


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